Setbacks for Armenia
During the last ten days Armenians suffered two significant political setbacks in Washington. The first one was the elimination of the genocide resolution, which was being drafted for a vote. Armenian Caucus members read the handwriting on the all and withdrew the resolution in view of the aggressive campaign conducted by the administration to defeat it. The other setback was the reduction of the aid level to Armenia, from last year's $83.4 million to $70 million. The aid package has been shrinking every year from $90 million two years ago to $83.4 last year, and it has already been further reduced to $70 million for 2004.
We may blame Armenia for failing international standards in the current year's Presidential and Parliamentary elections, or we may find other reasons for these setbacks. But in reality these are the reflections of the U.S. policy towards the region. This behavior demonstrates Armenia's strategic value in the scale of U. S. policy in the Caucasus. One of the reasons for aid reduction is considered the overall drop in fiscal 2004 funding for the former Soviet Union with $174 million. While Armenia's share is being reduced, last year we fought a losing battle to maintain restrictions imposed by Article 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which allowed the administration to direct U.S. aid to the Azerbaijani government, which in essence, meant rewarding the latter's intransigence vis-à-vis Armenia. We still need to be grateful and appreciative of the courageous fight put forward by House Appropriation Committee members, and particularly Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and its Ranking Member Nita M. Lowey (D-NY). That fight was spearheaded by the Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), along with Caucus member John E. Sweeney (R-NY).
While we express our gratitude to our friends, we must also keep the record of the opponents of our causes.
On the issue of aid to Armenia, the Bush administration initially had requested $49.5 million, almost half of what was allocated three years ago.
On the issue of the Genocide Resolution, the fight against its passage was conducted by Vice President Dick Cheney, who has personally called the senators to block the passage of the resolution. On the eve of the vote a member of Turkish Parliament, Egemen Bagis, from the ruling Justice and Development party, on a visit to Washington, announced: "We are hopeful that the bill will not pass. Dick Cheney's intervention especially gave us hope. This issue has turned into a matter of protecting U.S. national interests".
It looks like defending the murderers of the Armenian nation has become a U.S. national interest. In fact, this is the perversion of U.S. National interests.
In collusion with Mr. Dick Cheney, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has fought hard "to defend" the U.S. national interests by assuring the defeat of the Genocide Bill.
Mr. Wolfowitz is a member of a non-elected group of bureaucrats known as neo-cons (new conservatives), who seem to have hijacked the administration's political agenda and they have made it their duty to define the U.S. national interests. Their philosophy of the New American Century has nothing to do with the dreams of the founding fathers of this great nation. They have destroyed country after country under bogus claims, with the collusion of a docile media still claiming to be free. The end of this destructive drive is nowhere near.
America waged its war against Iraq purportedly to spread democracy in the region while the policy advocated by Mr. Wolfowitz directly countered that claim. Indeed, it was this gentleman who blasted Turkish military for not flexing their muscles to block the democrat
ic vote in the Parliament, which denied the deployment of U.S. forces on the Turkish territory during the invasion of Iraq.
Denying Armenia economic aid badly needed, or blocking the passage of the genocide resolution does not complete the list of anti-Armenian acts. We need to wait to find out what is being concocted against Iran by this group. The President is being pushed to raise the ante against Iran, which has not hurt any U.S. interest. The only reason Iran is being targeted at this time is that Iran is the last bastion of anti-Israeli front in the region. The neo-cons are about to interpret that posture as a threat to U.S. interests in the region to justify another war, which will have a devastating impact on the entire region, and particularly on Armenia. Iran is one of the two major trading partners of Armenia, which can reach out to the world through the Iranian territory.
But the more dangerous plans are revealed by the talks of dismembering Iran through its ethnic fault lines. Indeed, there are fifteen million Azeris living in Northern Iran; once they cede from Iran, they are bound to realize the Greater Azerbaijan with over 22 million Azeris on Armenia's doorstep. This had always been a premature dream of the late Azeri President Elchibey.
The war machine put into action by this group has no intention to halt until the people in this country realize where they have been heading our values and our real U.S. interests.
Already the administration has its feet in fire because the Iraq war was planned and executed on false pretenses. Also in hot water is Mr. Tony Blair, because after all, the sense of morality and decency are more respected norms in European politics.
Vigilance must also be observed by Armenian voters in this country. Mr. Dick Cheney has already expressed his intention of serving as a running mate to President Bush during the next Presidential election. Armenians, as individual voters, and through their advocacy groups, must send the message loud and clear.
That message will not only reflect the interest of an ethnic minority, but also the moral integrity of this great nation.
America needs more responsible representatives and bureaucrats to define its true national agenda.